Monday, November 25, 2013

Best Round of Golf Ever

Wow, what a flight. Thanks to all the monkeys that made this personal record flight memorable. Six years ago Ike made me start kiting. B-Ray, Bob and Reaper got me in the air and too many monkeys to mention have filled my bag of luck with skills and knowledge that will make it hard to empty.

Today started with grief. My truck battery was acting up and I raced to Sears for some service. They were awesome and got me on the road. I looked at the clock. 1:15. Crap, that took forever. Not thinking about the battery reset or looking at my wrist for the real time, I headed to Makapuu for what looked like a moderate wind local flight. There were several in the air when I got there at '1:45'. Ike, Motorhead and I hiked to Juice. I looked at my watch. Shoots, gained a bunch of time! It was only 11:15. I still need to fix the clock in the truck. My first launch off the new carpet. Sweet. Thanks to all that contributed, cause I christened it well.

Ike was launching and uncharacteristically he complained, "I forgot my jacket and gloves".  This statement and watching him fly in front of me gave me the fortitude to keep going.  Ike was flying in just a T-shirt, shorts, no pod and no gloves.  We both thought this was going to be a local flight. He could just land when he got cold.  Oops, we did not stay local, in fact many monkeys did not today and many personal bests were logged into their books.

Ike and Motorhead got a leap on me as I left Iron Woods I hit some weird sink and crawled back to Makapuu letting Ike and Motorhead know that I was most likely out for the day.  Then Swan came to mind as I started yelling at my self out loud.  "Go for it again, you big baby, you can do this!" Looking back at this day, I wish I had a Go-Pro just for the audio.  I talked out loud to myself all the way.

My second attempt, I aimed for the distant power lines.  It had gone a little more easterly so mentor Jorge popped in my ear, "Sometimes you have to go over the flats then go back to the ridge." It worked.  By then Ike and Motorhead were bombing their ways past the Pali Hwy. I chased them as fast as I could and even a little collapse behind Olomana didn't slow me down, the course to the Pyramid was pretty straight forward with altitudes in the 3,000' foot range most of the way.

I arrived at H-3 to see them hovering over Pyramid.  They were so far ahead.  By now I had been up for awhile and the occasional lift of the pod flap let in some chilly air, I would start to bitch but then thought Ike has to be freezing and he's still going.  The wind was now coming more northerly, a head wind to the Pyramid and a line too close to Kualoa forced Ike and Motorhead to land.

My first attempt to Pyramid was made crossing the valley toward the beginning of its East finger.  The rotor won this round so I peeled back to the main ridge and worked my way back up.  I thought about BoogaBooga, I was a ball short for that trip.  I got a great cloud skim ride from behind Pyramid over the finger, I never went to Pyramid didn't need it this time.   I floated over  Ike & Motorhead and yelled down to the farm workers that Ike just landed there for the free samples, I'll bet he had a few cups of coffee to warm up.

Flying over Motorhead and Ike reminded me of trip 15 years ago when I picked them up at Waihole, I was not even thinking of flying then and now that is all I think about.  I was getting low but Reaper had chirped that there is lift over the fish ponds.  Yup, there it is an extra few feet for my head wind battle to the front of Kualoa just got easier.

Once infront of Kualoa I knew I had Kahana, like I did when Maui Doug and I made this trip, but I did that one already and set my goals just a little further north.  A chug of water and nibble on a granola bar, I was refueled.   I crossed the bay at around 2800' and never stopped at Kahana ridge.  The LZ was filled with happy pilots that had made it to Kahuku Golf Course some for their first time.  Congrats to Reaper, James and Scot for adding a golf ball to your collections.  Alex chirped, "Go Thom, Go, my longest flight from Makapuu was to Hukilau and you've made it there before!"  With that my goal was set to at least Malekahana just to go a little further.

I hit Punaluu, easy to 3100', ok turn left.   Passing Haaula ridge Alex chirped, "I am with Stalker and Duck, we are following you, Duck is driving" He never stops retrieving.  You can't ask for a better mentor for this trip left than Alex.  I radioed my elevations down a few times and he would just keep saying, "You got the golf course".  It looked so far away but this is the highest I have ever been over every point.  Hukilau was way below me but I kept picking out LZ potentials all the way until I realized, I got the golf course.

I apologized to a few golfers for playing through as I flew over there heads and landed just behind the club house.  I was so stoked, I was speechless.  I was packing up my gear and asked Alex to find me a golf ball, he found one, it was pink or as we like to call it Man-genta which matched my birthday Aspen 4.  I will treasure this ball for a long time and hope to add many more to the shelf to keep it company.

This was a record for me, Makapuu to Kahuku Golf Course so celebrations were in order.  The ride back to Kahana with Alex, Duck and Jeff was only silenced by the awesome food we picked up at the road side garage.   Unfortunately, I got little respect on the ride home from Kahana in the Para-Van.  they stuck me in the back and piled glider bags on me.  I am guessing they were sick of the story.

We picked up Scrappy and Divot at Maui Doug's Kite Spot now the van was really packed.  Tyler drove a bunch of overly beveraged pilots back to their homes and took me all the way back to Makapuu to get my truck.  It was still there and it even started.  What a Great Day.

It's Time to Fly,  Get Your Gear and Go!!! Play Golf??  No way save that for Mad Doug.


JKS said...

Unbelievable! That's a HI state record in category, as per Motorhead, and I believe he is correct! "Well done", is all I can say. I'm homesick for sure. Top-Dog in the 2013 XC League, and that's with or without the participation of those XC gods among us who don't post their flights. Nice, with a capital "N"!

JKS said...

I guess that makes you our new XC sky god, Thom. Bask in the man-genta glow.

firedave2 said...

I was at Kualoa running the half-marathon and the sky looked epic. I was committed to something in the afternoon and was about blow it off, but it was for one of my biggest clients. The clouds above were barely moving, but the sensors looked high, so i headed back to town for some later regrets.

At least I know that I gave the 2013 Iwa XC award to the guy with the longest flight. Plus that jab about being a follower, is now in the past. Way to charge!


Divot Steve said...

Scrappy and I got to MPU around 2:15. We had family stuff in the morning and that was the earliest we could get there. The whole morning both of us were staring at the high cloud base. We met up with Shawn, who is trying to get his last flights to be signed off but he didn’t have much time to fly. I hadn’t flown in about 6 or seven weeks and needed to kite my wing to make sure all the cobwebs got shaken off. Scrappy kept asking if I wanted to go downrange, and at that point, I wasn’t sure. I needed to get in the air to see if I could handle it. We launch and I get up high and wait for Scrappy to get up. I went through rabbit rotor a couple times to see if I was gonna have a problem with turbulence. I was a little shaky, but figured I could deal with it.
As soon as Scrappy got up high, he turned. It’s go time. We went straight for Puu o Kona. Got high there, and kept going. AT this point this is the farthest I had been away from Makapuu. The wind was so east we just straight lined it behind Olomana and to Pali. Cloud base was about 3100 so we were doing everything we could to not get greyed out. Scrappy had to wait for me over by Temple Valley at one point, but other than that I was chasing him the best I could. We got over to the last valley before the Pyramid, and I radioed to see if anyone was still at Kahana. Reaper answered back saying that Sidehill made it to the Golf course and we needed to catch him.
At this point Scrappy’s radio decides to stop working so we were yelling at each other about our approach. We went for the Pyramid, but each time we got near the spine of the ridge, we kept hitting a wall of air, and we weren’t gonna make it. We tried twice and then decided to call it. Cloud base was too low for us to get any higher to make the Pyaramid. I radioed Reaper letting him know we weren’t gonna mke it any further and were landing at Maui Dougs. After we landed and packed up, Reaper’s Para-van rolls up. Reaper’s sitting shotgun and Tyler driving while Sidehill was crammed in the back with bags, and Don and Motorheard are in the front back seat. We shoved some more bags on Sidehill , crammed in we were homeward bound.
Thanks to Scrappy for leading the way. Thanks to Reaper and Tyler for scooping us up. Congrats to Sidehill on the super XC.
Divot Steve

Gravity said...

One word "EPIC"


Duck said...

Way to go Thom!! Was great to see you at the golf course and retrieve!

JaysonB said...

That flight outta hold you for a while Thom. BIG congrats dude!!

Thom said...

Thanks for all the comments. The only thing I would change is this picture. That crop on my chin just had to go. Now I will be lighter and maybe make it to Turtle Bay next time.

Maui Doug said...

Congratulations Thom, Mad Dog,& Steve!!! Way to go and charge it in collecting all those balls!
That confirms Skyalis is a good drug for all the ball sack swelling lately!

Ka'a'awa Larry said...

OK Mr. Mentor, your work is cut out for you now. I'll be expecting patience and wisdom every time you're on the hill with me.